Psychosocial stressors and low birth weight: development of a questionnaire.
Low birth weight is a major public health problem because it is a major contributor to infant mortality as well as to various types of morbidity among young children. Of particular concern is that black women have an increased risk of low birth weight babies compared with white women. Many etiologic factors for low birth weight have been identified, but even within homogeneous strata of risk, black women have a greater risk of low birth weight babies than do white women. The reasons for this excess risk are not well understood. Available evidence suggests that exposure to psychosocial stressors is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, prior work in this area has been limited by the lack of a valid and reliable tool to assess exposure to stressors among pregnant women. We report on the development and testing of such a questionnaire, the Prenatal Social Environment Inventory. In this questionnaire, exposure to stressors is conceptualized and measured in the context of chronic stressful conditions. The questionnaire is self-administered and can be used in clinical settings with pregnant women. Findings of psychometric evaluations showed that the questionnaire has acceptable levels of 30-day temporal stability (reliability), internal consistency, and construct validity.
Orr, ST; James, SA; Casper, R
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